This is a post for beginners! If you are a beginner to SEO, welcome! We hope you learn something in this blog post. If we don't answer all your questions about keywords here, leave us a comment below and we'll get back to you. :-)
Key phrases (or keywords) are the cornerstone of your website. They're the bread and butter of your SEO plan. Popular tools like Google Adwords rely on keywords to sell customized advertising to interested people who are likely to convert into sales.
Keywords are also your free* ticket to an audience for your website content. (*Free being you don't have to pay to utilize keywords in your content... but it does take time and energy to research the right ones, write good content with them, and ultimately be the top search result for them.)
What are key phrases?
Basically, key phrases are short, simple descriptors that people type into search engines (like Google, Bing, Yahoo!, MSN, etc.) in order to find information or answer a question about a specific interest or need. For example: "chocolate chip cookie recipe," "fun things to do in St. Paul, Minnesota," or "order Mother's Day flowers online." As little "summaries" that return information, keywords are also a way to quickly sum up what a business or brand does or offers.
The thing about key phrases is that users create them to fit their search query. These phrases are super important to your search engine optimization (SEO) because they help online users:
- Find your website on the Internet, and
- Quickly understand what your website is all about.
Not only do key phrases help real, live people find your website, but they also broadcast to Google that someone searched your website using a specific term, which helps Google create a profile of your website.
Key phrases and your SEO plan
SEO as a whole is not just limited to just key words – BUT key phrases and words are a HUGE, IMPORTANT piece of your SEO strategy.
Why? Here’s why: the goal of SEO is to spit your website out near the top of the search engine results page (the page that returns a list of results for your online search) for the search terms your targeted audience is typing in. If your targeted audience see your site pop up on the SERP’s, they will have an easier time
- interacting with your website,
- finding information about your company or business, and
- learning more about what makes you awesome.
As king of the SERP's, you will be visible, accessible, and respected. In return, this means lots of traffic and ultimately, great sales.The reason you want to climb the SERP’s is that people don’t have time to scroll through 100 search results on Google or Bing. Instead, they'll scan the first page usually, and if they don’t see what they’re looking for, they'll move on.
But there is no way you can climb the SERP’s and be visible to your target audience if the common search terms your audience is typing in are nowhere to be found on your page.
Where to put key phrases
Tuck them throughout your website content! It shouldn’t be too difficult to weave them in, as these phrases are the main topics and themes of what your business is all about. Websites get in trouble when they try to include phrases awkwardly into content. Example: “Are you looking for a great luxury tanning studio Minneapolis MN?”
Don’t force key phrases into content like trying to fit big feet into small shoes. It will only hurt you and the reader. Our best advice is to be helpful and write normally. Some key phrases (like the above example) are just too hard to incorporate into paragraphs that visitors will read, so don’t try unless you can do it seamlessly.
How to choose the right key phrases
When you are embarking on your SEO journey, the first part of your strategy always includes creating a key phrase plan. It’s important to pick the right key phrases! You want to find the phrases people are already searching for your niche. You don't want to waste time optimizing for key phrases that no one searches.
How do you decide what key phrases to pick?
Thankfully, you don’t have to guess what people are typing into Google. You can use Google AdWords to research what key phrases people commonly search – in every category imaginable – and also see just how many of your competitors are pinpointing the same keywords. Key phrases and words can be anywhere from “low” in competitiveness to “high.” Pick your own battles.
Your key phrases have to be broad enough that lots of people search them frequently so that you’re targeting a real need. Keeping that in mind, some key phrases are way too specific – we call those “long tail key phrases.”
I’ll give you an example. I can’t imagine why you would choose “I accidentally spilled wine on my mom's tablecloth, what can I use to get it out” because that’s crazy specific, and there probably aren’t enough searches per month to justify optimizing that key phrase (caveat: I could be wrong. I have not checked). But your key phrases also have to be specific enough to pinpoint a real, exact need or niche people are looking for. “tablecloth stain remover” might actually be a really popular search – who knows? Maybe I’ll go Google it.
To sum it up: key phrases are essential to SEO success. Choosing the right ones can mean major traffic and visibility to your prospective customers!
Questions on key phrases? Comment below! And check out our free Beginner's Guide to SEO, which has a cool keyword tracking spreadsheet included. We had a lot of fun putting the guide together!